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Vibrant Environment

This Ain’t Normal: Calculating the Social Costs of Carbon

Hurricane Harvey, as viewed from space (Photo: NOAA).
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

While EPA under Administrator Scott Pruitt seeks to drastically reduce the social cost of carbon (SCC), insurers already know that 2017 delivered the most expensive Atlantic hurricane season ever for insurance companies. Beyond this year, since the 1980s, the annual average losses to insurers have risen, increasing over the last decade from $10 billion to about $50 billion. “Insurers are rightfully worried that, in the long term, climate change could devastate their industry,” reported the Los Angeles Times. While Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico  flood, EPA recalculates, and insurance companies add up their costs.

The Endangered Species Act: Are State Backstops Sufficient?

State laws may be insufficient to implement the federal Endangered Species Act.
Monday, October 16, 2017

The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) enjoys considerable popular support and provides enormous ecological and other benefits beyond the protection of particular species. Yet the Act is not without its skeptics—longstanding calls to overhaul the Act have only gained traction in the 115th U.S. Congress and new Donald Trump Administration.

Smart Tech, Dumb Design: Planned Obsolescence and Social Responsibility

Four Generations of iPhone (Photo: Yutaka Tsutano)
By Azi Akpan, Research Associate
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

September 22 marked the beginning of fall, and for some, that means it’s officially apple-picking season. Coincidentally, this isn’t the only type of apple officially in season. September 22 also marked the release date of Apple’s iPhone 8. And it’s not too long until you have your pick of a new Apple product with the release of the iPhone X on November 3.

Environmental Protection in the Trump Era

Environmental Protection in the Trump Era
By John Pendergrass, Vice President, Programs and Publications
Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Here at ELI, we’ve seen a growing demand for unbiased answers and analysis on how deregulatory initiatives by the Administration and Congress will impact environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law. To that end, we recently collaborated with the American Bar Association’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Section to publish an ebook to aid understanding of the legal mechanisms that the White House, federal agencies, and Congress are using to change the regulatory approach to environmental, natural resources, and health and safety protections. The book attempts to answer these questions: What are the pathways and potential impacts of these ongoing regulatory changes? What are the opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to engage relative to these initiatives?

Look! A New Pollutant

A new class of nanopollutants was recently discovered in coal ash,
By Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project
Monday, October 2, 2017

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, coal-fired systems have been emitting a pollutant we did not even know existed . . . until now.

More Bog for the Buck: Leveraging NEPA Efficiencies to Increase Restoration

Coastal wetlands
By Amy Streitwieser, Staff Attorney, Teresa Chan, Senior Attorney, and Xiao Recio-Blanco, Director, Ocean Program
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On August 30, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (the “Council”) announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposal to “approve implementation funding for the Robinson Preserve Wetlands Restoration project” in Florida.

Mitigating Ocean Noise Impacts on Marine Mammals in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

Underwater noise can cause injury or death to whales (Christopher Michel).
By Greta Swanson, Visiting Attorney
Monday, September 25, 2017

Humans are rapidly increasing their industrial use of the ocean and its resources, resulting in great increases in underwater noise. Commercial shipping, naval sonar, seismic exploration, pile driving, acoustic deterrents for fishing, and seabed mining all produce ocean noise.

Brother(s), Can You Spare a Dime? Crowdfunding Environmental Action

Crowdfunding is the strategy of raising funds from a large number of people (Pho
By Lorentz Hansen, Research & Publications Intern, Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project, and Jessye Waxman, Research Associate
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In 2008, as many financial instruments dissolved stranding their investors in seas of debt and spasms of panic, a new instrument appeared at the intersection of the crowd and the web: crowdfunding.

Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities

ELI will examine emerging legal issues in Native American Communities.
By Cynthia Harris, Staff Attorney
Monday, September 18, 2017

Tribes and Native villages are demonstrating reinvigorated environmental activism as they face increased pressures on natural resource use. Consequently, some of the most significant new developments in environmental law are occurring in Indian country. This month, ELI features a two-part webinar series on “Emerging Environmental Issues in Native Communities.”

Oh, SNAP! D.C. Circuit Limits EPA’s Authority to Regulate HFCs

HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases (Photo: Wikimedia Commons).
By Robert Kelsey, Associate Editor, Environmental Law Reporter
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On August 8, 2017, the D.C. Circuit held in Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA, No. 15-1328 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 8, 2017), that EPA overstepped its authority under the CAA when it banned the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in products. HFCs were adopted as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) in the 1990s under the Montreal Protocol. Their adoption was encouraged through application of EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, which was created to help implement U.S.